Every Monday I go to Church. Not just any church. A Church where the regulars know the characters of crack heads and homeless with their yellow fingernails, missing teeth, and always a new set of cds or a new bike, by name. The homeless, mute, woman on the streets can read every word coming from your mouth. She survives on the roads where I would never walk through at night…through the dark lanes of warehouses from 53rd St. to 60 something St. It’s a land of shadows and a wanton supply of every drug imaginable.
Oh Churchill’s Pub. How many nights I’ve spent giving you my quarters to wash my clothes in your smelly Laundromat and playing pool with large biker men and punk rock sub-culturites.
Every Monday I forgive myself of my filthy sins in the filthiest bar in town as my thoughts scat with the blues and jazz scales. Churchill’s on a Monday night is a crashing of the parallel universes of Ginsberg, Gillespie, and Picasso in a modern day Miami better known for our plastic world of South Beach. It is a place where people sit like flies at the Miami River on bar stools around the island of spunky bartenders and their concoctions of drinks that you can drown in until even the smelly 40-year-old drunk has conversation that is stimulating.
You can sit for hours at the candlelit tables and imagine yourself in the Beat Era as brass horns slow dance to the soft singing of the guitar and the stand-up bass sounds like the prancing of elephants in the Everglades. Mike Gerber’s fingers frolic on the black and white canvas of the piano as he sways his body back and forth, his mouth hung open, shades falling off of the tip of his nose as his inutile eyes, glazed over, stare at some imagined point in the ceiling and a hearing aid droops from both ears. Blind and almost completely deaf he inherits your soul while the music lasts. The drummer with his brushes and mallets gives groovy beats as he pangs his pieces of metals and stretched material like raindrops hitting asphalt.
If you walk outside, pass the person dealing with the sound system and pass the bathrooms with pee puddles and freshly written graffiti, you will find another world of interaction between artists and the admirers of the creators (a.k.a. supporters?). This is where the open-mic of Theatre De Underground is held and anyone with loose lips, the desire to perform, and a creative itch can entertain a backyard full of open-minded bohemians. This place is more of like a support group of artists. It’s a comfortable place to just let go and test your performance skills. Mind you, there are some brilliant poets, musicians, actors, etc. that come here, but with them come the not-so-talented poets, musicians, and actors. As both a compliment and a critique to Theatre De Underground, I’ve observed that the crowd is too forgiving to the excruciatingly painful pieces that we’re forced to sit and listen to out of courtesy. They will clap and cheer and tell the performer that they were fabulous. If they had the ability they would throw confetti and roll out a red carpet for each of them. Where is the honesty?! If I finished a performance that had people searching their pockets for things to throw me off the stage with I would appreciate at least one, “God, you suck!” or “Pardon me, but I would like to point out an observation I’ve made that listening to your work that you’ve kindly exhibited to us this lovely, lovely evening was like sitting in a patch of thorns while a flock of ibis incessantly dropped feces on my face from the infinite, azure sky.” Maybe supplying whipped cream pies to the audience would inspire such honesty.
Churchill’s, Churchill’s, Churchill’s…it’s like my dirty living room. I can kick my feet up, sit on the tables, but never do I sit on the toilet seats. Strange characters conglomerate on Monday nights from 40 year-old single moms, to supermodels, to electrical engineers, to your favorite Miami-Made maniacal bus driver, to a 3rd grade teacher or Univ. of Miami Professor. I feel like I fit in quite nicely. You probably would too.